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Another tragedy, another call for better streets

June 7, 2016, Alexei Baureis, a 14-year-old was hit and killed on his bicycle at the intersection of Spicewood Springs and Rustic Rock Drive. A large truck hit this child. After noting that the driver was not intoxicated and cooperative KXAN reports that police warn “with summer here, people on bikes should be certain to make sure they have their lights and reflectors in place, there is no mention that lights or reflectors were a factor. There is no warning to motorists to make sure their vehicles are operational, that they are not driving distracted or without lights.

A 14-year-old is dead. Looking at the intersection (see interactive street view below) where he died it is clear, there is no infrastructure for people on bikes. Had the motorist been looking and driving with lights on and seeing what there is to be seen and observing the vulnerable road user ordinance, would this young person still be with us? Had the City provided adequate street lighting and a bicycle lane would this young person still be with us?

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Meeting with the Chief of Police

In a time when traffic injuries and deaths are at an all time high and disproportionately affecting vulnerable road users, Monday, Chief Acevedo and Bike Austin are meeting at Mellow Johnny’s (May 23, 2016, 6pm). This meeting is to discuss the donation by Bike Austin to the APD of 2 C3FT devices which are designed to help enforce the 3-ft passing law for vulnerable road users.

I don’t want a meeting with the Chief. I want the Chief to meet with his officers and Licensed Cycling Instructors and educate them on the laws specific to people riding bikes and people who are most vulnerable using our very delicate and dangerous system of transportation. And really, giving them two new pieces of technology is not getting the police to buy into educating themselves about the 3-foot and 6-foot rule. I ask that the Police Department, from the rank-and-file to the Chief, commit 10 minutes or even 5 minutes to a regularly scheduled training to discuss the laws pertaining to vulnerable road users.

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Bike Safety Tips for Riding in the Rain

Rainy day bicycle safety tips

Bike Safety Tips for Riding in the RainAustin is a great place to live, and many residents choose to take advantage of the ease of biking to many of the places that they might need to go. However, when it rains (as it has so much recently!), riding a bicycle can become much more hazardous, not to mention more uncomfortable for the rider!

Even so, there are many ways to make to make riding your bicycle in the rain a safer and much more pleasant experience. For instance:

• Light up that bike! If people can’t see you, then you stand a much greater chance of being hit. Rain and the resulting glare will reduce motorists’ vision, so be sure to put LED lights on your seatpost and handlebars. You might also consider an LED light that flashes red or a rechargeable lighting system.

• Remember to take additional safety measures when conditions are wet. Your tires will be more likely to slide out when you turn, and your braking distance will be shorter. Leather brake shoes might help reduce slippage and allow you to stop more quickly in the rain. Also watch out for painted lines on the road, which might be slicker than other parts of the pavement, and other hazards such as leaves, manholes, puddles, or any other danger that might be lurking in the road.

• Reduce your speed! It’s harder to avoid hazards in the rain, and it’s better to get to your destination a little later in one piece than to risk unnecessary injury to yourself or others.

• Use a heavier chain lube to help prevent rusting. There are some that are made especially for wet conditions.

• Be sure you have fenders over your front and rear tires. You can even cut strips from old water bottles and attach them to your fenders to make them longer!

• Consider buying a seat cover. It will help protect your bike, and it may increase your personal comfort as well!

• Buy a rain bike. If you’re going to be riding in the rain often, you may want to invest in a bike that you don’t mind exposing to more hazardous weather conditions. You may even have an older bike lying around that you can dedicate for rainy-day riding, thus saving your favorite bike from exposure to the elements.

• Choose appropriate clothing if you know in advance that you might be riding in the rain. You can wear a cycling cap under your helmet to help protect your head. Also be sure that you have a good cycling jacket. Being waterproof may not be enough-be sure the jacket also has some breathability. Also remember that normal raincoats may be too long to safely wear while riding. You can also cover your shoes to help keep the rain off your feet. They sell waterproof shoe covers, but you might be able to achieve the same result with a plastic bag and a little bit of crafting!

• Be aware that rain may reduce your range of vision, especially if you wear glasses that might get wet or foggy. You can help prevent this by purchasing a specialty helmet, or you could even try your hand at making your own visor out of an old soda bottle!

Following these tips can help you ride more safely and comfortably in inclement weather. However, if you are injured while riding your bicycle, contact Shefman Law.

Austin City Limits on Two Wheels – Quick Tips

acl_signIt’s that time again in Austin! The Austin City Limits Music Festival is a time of great music, fun, and merriment for the city. ACL also brings street closures and traffic congestion. This means that often your best option for getting there is cycling. Follow these tips when riding to help make getting to ACL a breeze.

1) The ACL bicycle parking lot is next to the box office on the south side of Barton Springs Road-about as close as you can get! There are also bike racks at each of the festival entrances. Be sure to bring your lock, and don’t park in an unauthorized area.

2) If you’re on a motorcycle, you can park in the ball field parking lot off of Robert E. Lee. Also, motorcycle parking is always free downtown, so if you’d prefer you can park and take the free CapMetro shuttle located in Republic Square on 4th and Guadalupe to the festival.

3) Check your bike over thoroughly before you leave. Make sure that there is air in your tires and that all of the mechanical parts are in good working order. However, if you get there and have a problem, there will be mechanics on site to help with emergency bicycle repairs.

4) Be sure your bike is equipped with lights. It will probably be dark when you leave. Don’t forget your helmet!

5) If you don’t have a bike, or don’t want to bring your best one, you can always rent one from one of the bike shops in town or grab a B-cycle.

6) Be alert and aware. There will be many cars and pedestrians, and they may not always be paying attention to their surroundings as closely as they should. Be sure that you signal and follow all traffic laws as well.

7) Pack wisely. Remember that you may have a lot to carry. You may need to use a rack if you have one or leave some nonessentials at home. Plan ahead so that you are prepared when it’s time to head out!

8) Don’t ride your bike if you’ve been drinking. It’s dangerous, and it IS possible to get an impairment ticket on a bicycle. If you need an alternate lift, there are pedicabs available, or you can use Uber. First time Uber users can use the code ACLFEST for a free first ride up to $30.

A little advance planning can help keep you safe and save you a lot of time and hassle.

Have fun, ride safe and remember, Shefman Law and CyclistLaw – we’ve got your back.

Frankie Frankovis and the Case of the Missing Police Report (Update)

As of noon Monday, the report was still unavailable, this is the response from the Chief.

Read the initial story here: What does it take to get a police report around here?

View a screen shot of the Facebook message exchange between Art Acevedo and Lenore Shefman, Shefman Law

Facebook Message from Art Acevedo: Hi, a report was generated. We may want to consider legislation as the Transportation Dept. definition of a crash doesnt include these circumstances. We are looking at adjusting our internal polcies to require a report in instances such as these. More to follow. Write me at art.acevedo@austintexas.gov so we can keep you in the loop on how our policy revision progresses.

Facebook Message from Cyclistlaw Attorneys: We went to pick up the report yesterday and Ruth provides the receipt indicating no report. Let’s discuss this because it doesn’t make sense that a jaywalker running into a person causing serious bodily injury wouldn’t warrant a report?

FB message from Art Acevedo: I agree completely with your position. We do have a report. Write me at art.acevedo@austintexas.gov so we can work on getting the report. I was advised by Lieutenant McGowan that a report is ready to go.

Saturday 12:51pm
FB message from Cyclistlaw Attorneys: I am glad you agree that is always great! What makes no sense is this, you are the chief of police and if it is your instruction that this is APD policy I do not see how State Legislation will fix what is so easily taught in officer training, and already supported by APD policy. When a person is injured due to another’s traffic or safety violation a police officer called to the scene of the incident shall write a report.

Chief Acevedo Because a crash between a cyclists and a pedestrian doesn’t meet the definition of a collision, and it should. Anytime a cyclist crashes and gets hurt a police report should be taken. What if a cyclists crashes after hitting a huge pot hole on a trail or something. From a civil liability perspective we should require police reports statewide.

Cyclistlaw Attorneys: I am not concerned with statewide in this instance I find that to be a red herring. Let’s focus on our City and Frankie. A report should have been written, a vehicle was collided with by a jaywalker causing serious bodily injury. There is no reason she or anyone in this situation should be told this is not the sort of incident that requires a report, that is just absurd.

Chief Acevedo: I agree and we are fixing this at our PD, but my family and I ride our bikes all over the state and I think it’s absurd a bicycle crash isn’t treated like any other collision. I don’t want to leave it to individual departments discretion, i want a report no matter where I crash. I’m going to be reaching out to TX DOT on this issue. We are behind the times.

Cyclistlaw Attorneys: Yes, as a Bike Texas Board Member that is the larger picture and I am glad we agree on the larger issue but Chief of Police in Austin, Texas, why is this happening in Austin, Texas?

Chief Acevedo: This is the first time a crash v. Pedestrian crash has occurred and no report was taken, without Frankie bringing it to my attention we may have not had the opportunity to update policy. Community is eyes and ears for us.

Click the image below to see the screenshot of this exchange.
facebookchatwithArt

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